Sunday, January 31, 2010

Winter Sunshine

A quick knit, this simple scarf in Jaeger Merino Aran.  The double moss stitch gives a nice tweedy fabric which doesn't curl and the five fifty gram balls  knit up to the length my husband needs to provide a loop of face coverage in the frosty weather.   Very satisfying to have the right amount af a suitable colour in the stash, instead of having to buy more yarn.  Also in evidence is the taupe sweater I was knitting when I started this blog.  This has a simple geometric texture, but somehow looks modern because of a tiny design feature - garter stitch for a couple of rounds after picking up for the neck-band.

Home-made marmalade.  One of those seasonal tasks as the year turns, storing the fruits of the season in the old way.  It never ceases to amaze me how so few oranges can produce so much marmalade.  In terms of effort this is quite unlike the blackcurrant jam I made some weeks ago from our own frozen currants.  Each one picked by hand, then topped and tailed by hand. But both preserves have that unmistakable intense flavour of fruit. I remember being given blackcurrant tea for a cold when I was little - just blackcurrant jam diluted with boiling water.  So the belief lingers that it is a health food - and I suppose it probably is rich in vitamin C.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snow Days

Ah, the pleasure of the unexpected snow day!  Aside from coaching my IB students by e-mail, and mugging up on their next text - "A Doll's House" - I settled in to a regime of cooking, sewing and knitting. 
First, I re-covered this little stool with some classic William Morris fabric.  Then, and less photogenically, I made thermal linings for the living-room and bedroom curtains.  One forgets how much physical strength is needed to wrastle lengths of fabric into position.  Then, the horror of realisation, as it becomes obvious that you have sewn it together back to front or upside down.  Very easy to do with white fabric with no obvious grain.  But curtain linings are very forgiving - no one will see them, after all.

Next, another pair of gents' mitts, this time in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, lovely to handle, but oddly splitty.  These are in single moss stitch which made for a firm fabric.

Then, my husband requested a long scarf, long enough to wind around the face at least once.  This need has never arisen before, but it certainly did on our winter snow walks this year.  What a pleasure to be able to locate a suitably manly yarn in one's existing stash.  This is a Jaeger Merino Aran, bought from Kerrie of Hipknits after she and her partner acquired the complete stock of a yarn-shop.  They were in Essex and the shop in Scotland, but nothing seemed to daunt them and the yarn mountain had to be seen to be believed.

Some years ago, my mother-in -law passed away, and I inherited her sewing-box.  This fine piece of cabinet work had been made especially for her as a gift from a great-aunt, and, over the years, her unrivalled collection of Hooks and eyes and other notions has been very useful.  however, I'd never emptied it right out until now.  What meanings do we read into this item, still in a paper wrapper with her own mother's writing on it, so clearly a present of some kind? 

Inside, against multi-coloured foils, are sixty sewing needles, all in pristine condition.  Whoever would need sixty needles, no matter how keen a sewer they were?   She did teach housecraft, but this is very much a personal piece of kit. Since there were many other packs of needles elsewhere, I will never need to disturb this collection either, yet what a fantastic resource.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Does the road wind uphill all the way?

Wintry walk up Sale Fell in Cumbria.  At the snicket leading to the fell we were met by a rugged-looking chap with a young collie dog.  He was wearing crampons.  It was treacherous up there, he said, and we should put on our crampons if we had them.   We pondered on this for a moment or two, then gave it a go.  Packed snow on the paths had turned to ice, but we were fine on all but the lonning at the back of the
hill where water was running over the ice.


Another day;another frosty scene.  Bitterly cold wind and a white frost in the sunlight, even at noon.  This is the remains of a salt-pan at Crosscanonby, just below the Roman Fort.

Finally, some knitting.  The last strip of my cabled throw is now half-done.  I summoned the resolve to experiment by opening up the cables to produce the serpent's head, then embellishing with a few embroidered details to add the eye, ear and lip.  I'm still wondering about fangs.  The serpent is to be imagined chasing the two bodied beast ahead of it.  These are all very simple cable designs, but copied directly from details of the Viking Cross at Gosforth. Cumbria.  This new spell of snow and enforced idleness
should see this project complete.